As a small business owner who probably struggles with the everyday operations of business and overhead, marketing can sometimes become a secondary concern. This is a mistake that many people make due to lack of experience, budget and marketing know-how. Many businesses fail, not because of profit margins, but because their product or service is not marketed correctly. Marketing can seem unnecessary, expensive and complicated to many but the reality is that it is indispensible, affordable and very easy- if you have the right tools. Simple marketing for small businesses is all around us.

The first thing any small business needs is a marketing plan. This is similar to a business plan but instead outlines marketing tools and techniques for an organization. A basic marketing plan should include:
Executive Summary or Overview: What is the marketing plan about? Your company’s overall strategy? Or a component / product /service? Include an overview of your objectives, goals and timelines.

S.W.O.T. Analysis: the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for a business.
Goals: What do you want to accomplish with your marketing efforts?

Message: what will be the message (s) you send to your target audience?

Marketing Strategies: What strategies best fit with what you are marketing?

Timeline: Create a time period in which you will be implementing your strategies

Budget: how much can you spend?

Evaluation: How will you evaluate your success? (ROI, analytics, newsletter subscribers, etc.)

There are two categories of marketing methods; those we consider “Traditional” and online.

Print: Including dailies and weeklies – paid and free. These marketing tools are valuable sources for news and advertising for your target market. The price varies greatly with these types of advertising with the weeklies and free local papers generally being the cheapest.

Television and Radio: These are not usually popular marketing tools for small businesses due to the cost and the ability of the masses to fast forward through commercials and receive satellite radio now. For larger companies they are essential.

Outdoor: Billboards can be very cost effective with the number of impressions they make. However, small business advertising can get somewhat lost with this platform if not done with a smaller local company.

A relatively new venue for marketing tools, it is now becoming essential for every business to have an online presence. It is cheaper, can be more targeted and offers stellar market research that can open many new doors for a company.

Website: A must for small businesses. This can represent a source of information for your audience, or it can represent a store location, providing online shoppers the option of shopping from home rather than visiting a physical location.

Social Media: This is a rapidly growing marketing tool that almost every company can take advantage of. It encompasses companies and platforms such as: Blogs, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter (among many others) and is a free tool. It also provides the opportunity for invaluable customer feedback and interaction.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising and Search Engine Optimization: Bucking against the norm of paying for an ad and hoping your target market will see it, PPC follows a bit of a different path. Company owners pay each time their ad is clicked on. This offers a much more targeted path to the company’s website, product pages or social media page. Search Engine Optimization offers keyword-enriched search data for websites, ads, social media and more; trying to ensure that the right people see your online profile.

To be truly effective, smaller companies need to combine both traditional and online marketing tools; however, starting out with the online portion is usually more budget-friendly for smaller organizations. Each method and platform should be chose]n based on the target markets’ preferences and tendencies (marketing a home for the elderly may not fare to well on Twitter, etc.)

No matter the method, budget, timeline or size of the company marketing will play a necessary and essential part of every company’s success. By following these simple marketing steps, any company can maximize not only their visibility, but also their profit.

Author's Bio: 

Lilly Gordon is a freelance writer and web publisher. She is marketing professional and is currently researching Advertising in Edmonton, Alberta and local communities, where she currently resides.